2019 Schools of Thought: The State of Education in Santa Barbara

In taking a look at the latest news and trends related to education in Santa Barbara County, it’s clear that there is an impressive breadth and depth of learning opportunities here in town. From the readers and writers workshop model to incorporating mindfulness practices, social-emotional learning, Latin studies, highly experiential learning, and meshing digital design with fine art traditions, educators are working hard to develop strategies that work for the ways individual students learn best. 

This special section was developed by asking the issue’s sponsors to suggest story ideas based on people, projects, or trends that they’re excited about in their schools and organizations. From that list, we selected stories that represent a wide variety of learning experiences in Santa Barbara and produced the editorial content independently. 

We hope you enjoy it and learn something new about learning! 

African Adventures for Laguna Blanca’s Zack Moore

AHA!’s Peace Builders Put Social-Emotional Education First

Bodhi Path Offers Enlightened View of Technology

Fielding Grad Mallory Price Leads for Literacy

Providence Launches Innovative Design Program 

Raising S.B.’s Next Generation of Teachers 

Saint Therese Academy Provides a Latin Advantage 

SBCC Auto Tech Gears Up For The Future

SBCC Brings the World to the Kitchen

S.B. Middle School Brings Its Best to the Table

The Joy of Experiential Learning at Crane School

The Montessori Method’s Many Success Stories

Unplugged Yet Connected at Midland School 

Leslie Dinaberg is currently the editor in chief of Touring & Tasting magazine. She spent the last 11 years as managing editor of Santa Barbara Seasons, has also edited national business and college student magazines, and writes regularly for a number of publications. Leslie has also authored three nonfiction children’s books and is the coauthor of Hometown Santa Barbara: The Central Coast Book, an insider’s guide to her hometown. See lesliedinaberg.com or follow her on Instagram (@LeslieSDinaberg) and Twitter (@lesliedinaberg). 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

Saint Therese Academy Provides a Latin Advantage 

From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

St. Therese Academy, from Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Why is There so Much Life Left in This Dead Language?

Latin may be a dead language, which is defined as “no longer the native language of any community,” but as far as scholars are concerned, it’s still vitally full of life. 

“Studying Latin is an antidote to the frenzied pace of modern life,” explained Saint Therese Classical Academy teacher Andrew Edward Hauser. 

The school began its sixth year in Santa Barbara this fall, as part of a network of Catholic schools that have adopted a classical academic model. Part of that curriculum is that every student reads the classic works of Greece and Rome, studies the history of the church, and takes at least four years of Latin. 

“With all of its declensions, conjugations, and grammatical rules to master, Latin is a language made for a methodical mind, and in turn it trains its students to be methodical,” said Hauser. “One must slow down to make progress in Latin. Every word has to be weighed, analyzed, and understood in the context of its usage. Studying Latin instills in students a deep reverence for language, a reverence that is being lost in a culture that runs on instant communication. A strong command of language is a skill that never goes out of fashion.” 

With a documented correlation between studying Latin and higher SAT scores, college grade point averages, and even math-problem-solving abilities, many other local schools emphasize the importance of studying Latin. For example, at Laguna Blanca, 7th graders complete a job interview in Latin, and at Ojai’s Thacher School, an impressive 75 percent of the students who took the National Latin Exam received awards. Latin instruction is also offered at all of the secondary schools in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. 

We hardly need studies to confirm this, however. “Anyone who has studied the Latin language in good faith can speak to its effects on the mind,” said Hauser. “What is more mysterious and more remarkable about studying Latin is that it ingrains in those students … a confidence in discipline and a love of language.” 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

African Adventures for Laguna Blanca’s Zack Moore

Laguna Blanca's Zack Moore, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Laguna Blanca’s Zack Moore, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Science Teacher Returns to West African Coast for Educational Outreach

When Zack Moore travels to Ghana this November, his second journey to the West African coast will take his educational voyage full circle. The Laguna Blanca STEM coordinator and science instructor began his teaching career in 1997 as a physics and science instructor for the Peace Corps in the village of Breman Asikuma. Now, thanks to winning one of the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Short-Term (DAST), he’ll return to the same town to facilitate STEM integration in the Ghana-Lebanon Islamic School. He’s one of just 13 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad as part of the prestigious program in 2019. 

Moore’s first journey to Ghana came after he graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in civil engineering. He had “a vague notion of going out and saving the world by joining the Peace Corps,” thinking he’d spend a few years in Ghana and return home to be an engineer. 

“When I did Peace Corps, I recognized the impact that you can have on others,” said Moore, who admitted that there is a self-serving aspect as well. “The amount of joy I had every day, where kids were excited to see me and wanted to hear what I had to say and interact in a way where I helped them grow and they helped me grow was so great.” 

He’s been teaching ever since, first at several high schools in San Francisco and then the American Nicaraguan School in Managua, Nicaragua. He joined Laguna Blanca in 2007. 

On his return to Breman Asikuma, Moore will bring his expertise in infusing STEM methodology into a traditional liberal arts education, particularly for young girls. But he’s also bringing his wife, Dr. Erin Moore (a physician at UCSB Student Health), and their two young sons, Riley, age 9, and Shane, age 5. 

“It’s just such a great opportunity,” said Moore, who hopes his kids will take classes at the school. “It would be great to have them see a very different experience from what they’re used to.” 

For the STEM program at Laguna Blanca, Moore tries to “give kids tangible skills that they can apply to not just their STEM electives but also to problems around the world. We try to instill this design-thinking mindset into what we do … across all disciplines.” 

He hopes to do the same during his short stay in Ghana. “A Fulbright program focusing on my field of expertise and passion — STEM integration for girls — seems serendipitous,” he said. “It will give me an opportunity to come full circle.” 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19

Lionesses of Winter

They Take Pride in Giving Back

It takes passion, money and a lot of hard work for Santa Barbara’s most treasured nonprofit organizations to thrive. This community tradition of giving back by supporting education, caring for those in need, and sharing a love for nature and the arts has an incredibly generous cast of leading ladies at its helm. Not content to simply be the torchbearers, they are also keeping an eye toward the next generation of the philanthropic community.

“I’m trying to spread the circle,” says Shirley Ann Hurley. “I’ve brought young women into my life who care passionately about these sorts of things that I do and they stimulate me and …I love the excitement that is getting to know all of these wonderful people.”

Let’s meet a few of the women who help keep the community alive and well.

The Leading Ladies

Betty Hatch

La Belle Foundation, Granada Theatre, Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., Hospice, CAMA, Cottage Hospital, Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Art Association, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara Ballet

“My life has been dedicated to the teaching of self-esteem,” says Hatch, founder of La Belle Modeling Agency (1963-1991), and now executive director of the La Belle Foundation, which offers young women free training in self-esteem, self-development and personal and social responsibility.”

“Giving to the community is just a pleasure; it’s a demonstration of our gratitude and our love for everybody here.”

Shirley Ann Hurley
Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, Family Service Agency, Santa Barbara Public Education Foundation, CALM, Anti-Defamation League, Santa Barbara Foundation

“The things I’ve wanted to spend my time on are the things that help children and young people become the best that they can be, which means to live up to their full potential … The organization that I have probably put the most years into and time is the Family Service Agency. The concept that we could intervene early in a child’s life and with that child’s family and help them raise a more secure child was what hooked me.”

“People keep saying what do you do for fun. I said everything. All of this is fun. And it is. It’s work, but it’s fun. There’s nothing I like better than working with a group of deeply caring people. It is so exciting. And the fact that you know that together you can make a difference in somebody’s lives and your community is just such a reward.”

Gerd Jordano
Cottage Hospital Building Campaign, Westmont College Foundation, CALM

“Board members are ambassadors for those organizations. They are sort of cheerleaders and are able to sort of talk and share what that organization is and what it’s all about. It’s really an opportunity to educate people about that organization and that gives me great joy to share my passion and my knowledge about that particular organization.”

“I’m a former cheerleader so I continue that same passion, only I’m just not jumping up and down anymore (laughs). But I do get very passionate about what I get involved with and it just brings me a lot of joy.”

Carol Palladini
Santa Barbara Women’s Fund

“The concept of the Santa Barbara Women’s Fund (which will have given away more than $1 million by the end of the year) is making your time and money most effectively used by a lot of women writing checks and putting them together and doing direct fundraising, so that you’re not spending a lot of money to make money… Our umbrella is giving in support of the greater Santa Barbara area; it has to be local, to benefit unmet needs for women, children and families.”

“A lot of the work that I’ve done in the past, on and off boards, has some Heartache mixed in with the joy of it. This has been a pleasure from the beginning.”

Joanne Rapp
Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, CALM, Cottage Hospital, Botanic Gardens, Laguna Cottages, Montecito Community Foundation

“I have enjoyed working with organizations that are targeted at helping youth with their educational goals, in particular the Scholarship Foundation and the Santa Barbara Foundation student loan program. Everything that you work on and within the nonprofit community enhances the quality of life and the effectiveness of our community, but helping the students transfers anywhere. … It will strengthen the fabric of whatever community that they land in.”

The Next Generation

Tiffany Foster
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, Howard School, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Lotusland, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families

“When I arrived in Santa Barbara four years ago … it seemed that every fabulous, intelligent person I met was volunteering for either Storyteller or Lotusland. Before I knew it I was in the center of a vibrant group of caring women and men who dedicated their energy, financial resources, and business acumen to help make a difference in our local community.”

“Storyteller Children’s Center provides daycare and preschool to homeless toddlers in Santa Barbara as well as support services for their families. Young children deserve security, safety and a stable environment. … It is difficult to find a more worthy cause.”

Kisa Heyer
Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, Crane Country Day School, Storyteller, Lobero Theatre, Sarah House, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, CAMA

“Even after being involved with Lotusland for so long, I’m still amazed by it–not only with its collections, design, architecture, and programs–but also with the story behind the garden. Madame Ganna Walska’s wonderland is such a benefit to our community. It’s magical to see joy that children (all 4th graders visit) and adults express after visiting the garden, and no surprise, really, that we are becoming world-renowned as a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Jill Levinson
Lotusland, Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of SB, Storyteller, New Beginnings Counseling Center, Lobero Theatre, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families.

“I think everyone has a need for hospice care for themselves or their loved ones at some point in their life. I just feel like it’s very important to support these organizations because they’re necessary. If they disappeared that would be a travesty for our community. Our community is so fortunate to have so much to offer everyone. I think that’s part of what’s really special about Santa Barbara, it tries to take care of people.”

Laura Shelburne
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Stanford University, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ I spent a number of years practicing corporate law, working around the clock during the Silicon Valley boom, and I always regretted that I didn’t have enough time to do worthwhile pro bono work. While I was one of those oxymoronic happy lawyers, I have to say that now it is wonderful to be able to choose my own “clients” based on causes I believe in and use my skills and experience to help non-profits. I also feel strongly that I should set an example for my children by doing things for others and for institutions that will outlast us and continue to benefit future generations.

Lisa Wolf
Santa Barbara Ballet, CAMA, Storyteller, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Zoo, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, French Heritage Society, Laguna Blanca

“We started a group at the art museum because we had a feeling that the art museum was reaching out really effectively to kids in town, elementary school students and underprivileged kids and it was also a great resource for very very serious art collectors, but there was nothing in the middle. … So we created this group called SMART families (and it’s Santa Barbara Museum of Art, not that we think we’re especially bright) but a really wonderful group.”

“When you know that you’ve helped make it possible for somebody to attend a program or for somebody to be exposed to opera or some great cultural moment, or to just alleviate human suffering, it’s a great privilege to be able to do it.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine, 2007